“I don’t think he’s a psychopath. He’s much more than that… He’s a fallen angel. He’s Satan.”
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“I don’t think he’s a psychopath. He’s much more than that… He’s a fallen angel. He’s Satan.”
REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE ABHORSEN CHRONICLES:
- BADASS FEMALE PROTAGONISTS: from Sabriel the prefect of an all-girls school to Lirael a shy librarian both of whom turn into duty-bound zombie killing soldier priests who rescue princes and battle necromancers and fight against what is effectively a trapped god, you can keep your Hermione’s and Katniss Everdeen’s thanx (and can we just talk about how the girls in the school TOTALLY JUMP INTO HELP THE SOLDIERS AGAINST KERRIGOR DESPITE KNOWING THEY’RE PROBABLY GOING TO DIE??)
- INCREDIBLE WORLD BUILDING: set in two neighbouring kingdoms - one resembling 1930’s britain the other a medieval fantasy realm that’s fallen into anarchy plagued by Death NOT TO MENTION the world-weary soldiers manning the wall who are sick of your necromantic bullshit
- TALKING ANIMAL COMPANIONS: not as cheesy as you think, since one is a sarcastic cat spirit who is scary as fuck when his true form is revealed and the other a wizened grandmotherly-like dog who rips out undead throats
- COOL MAGIC: though it’s complicated it isn’t once confusing and you can’t beat dual sword-and-bell wielding, bells that can land you into death modeled after the Egyptian afterlife
- GREAT CHARACTERS AND DEVELOPMENT: all the characters are forced to carry a duty and some succeed whilst others don’t but that’s okay because being born into a society doesn’t necessarily mean you belong there
- GOOD ROMANCE: it’s subtle and forged out of friendship and trust and doesn’t define any of the characters or control any of the events in the story
- NEW BOOKS COMING SOON: including Clariel which is a prequel based on Chlorr of the Mask WHO WAS AN ABHORSEN WHO TURNED EVIL!! like how awesome does that sound give me all the downward spirals for female necromancers AND there’s apparently going to be a sequel to the series too!!
- POSSIBLE FILM IN THE MAKING: which means if you wanna get on that fandom first get on it now
- IT’S JUST REALLY GREAT?? despite it being marketed as a YA book it’s still riveting and mature enough for older audiences (I think I might appreciate it more now that I’m older tbh) just UNF
So let me explain this theory for those of you who haven’t heard it before already.
The Great Gatsby is a story of a man that makes his fortune bootlegging and throws countless magnificent parties all in hopes of attracting the attention of his old flame Daisy.
But it’s really a story about insurmountable class barriers. Daisy will never be with Gatsby, no matter how much she claims to love him. No matter how hard Gatsby tries, he will always be stuck on West Egg, only able to admire the ‘green light’ of upper class american romanticism from afar.
Themes of insurmountable class barriers permeate the entire novel right from some of the famous opening lines:
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
And so here’s the theory:
Jay Gatsby was black, passing for white (“High yellow”)
Lower class vs upper class. Old money vs new money. East Egg vs West Egg. White vs black. Don’t believe me?
- Early in the novel, Daisy’s beau Tom goes on a full fledged rant about the oncoming threat of the rise of the black race in society
- Another reference to race is made when Nick and Gatsby pass by a limo driven by a white chauffeur with “three modish negroes”
- Numerous references are made to Gatsby’s notably dark skintone in comparison to Daisy’s lighter skintone
- “I would have accepted without question the information that Gatsby sprang from the swamps of Louisiana or from the lower East Side of New York. That was comprehensible. But young men didn’t— at least in my provincial inexperience I believed they didn’t— drift coolly out of nowhere and buy a palace on Long Island Sound.”
Not only was the insurmountable barrier between him and Daisy one of class and upbringing, but also one of race.
What we take for granted as Gatsby’s whiteness is actually a omission of detail rather than a specific indicator that he was white.
From the article Was Gatsby Black?
Thompson adds, “When I ask people what basis there is for Gatsby being white, I get silence. I have asked students, colleagues. They don’t know. They cannot give me any evidence to back up the speculation. And why haven’t people made this argument so far?”
Of course as with any theory or reading of a classic text, there’s room for disagreement:
Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli has one answer. “Because it’s mishigas! If Fitzgerald wanted to write about blacks, it wouldn’t have taken 75 years to figure it out. If that’s what Fitzgerald wanted, he would have made it perfectly clear in April 1925. Great works of literature are not fodder for guessing games. This kind of thing is bad for literature, bad for Fitzgerald, bad for ‘The Great Gatsby’ and bad for students who get exposed to this kind of guessing game.”
But why shouldn’t we play a guessing game with it? We don’t have Fitzgerald around to verify any of these details so why not have a bit of fun with the text? It’s a very modern reading of the text and it makes it not only more relatable but more heartbreaking.
Everyone has their own reasons why they can’t be with their own Daisy.
Why shouldn’t Gatsby be black? And why can’t he really be with Daisy?
In this discussion about whether or not Beethoven was black, the point is made:
Another tight question along these lines: Was Jay Gatsby black? Again, it’s probably not literally the case (as Fitzgerald intended it) –- but what’s much more interesting is everyone’s utter inability to take it seriously as a legitimate reading of the text, which it is.
You might even say that it’s obsessed with the concept.
The way this show approaches it has a lot to do with the fact that its main heroes are criminal psychologists. Their main interest is to predict the killer’s actions so they can catch them. So to a great extent, ‘sociopath’ is merely a label for a bunch of patterns. A person either fits it, or doesn’t.
They go deeper a lot, of course.
Right from the start we hear that the ripper is not a “true sociopath”, that he possesses compassion. It works out of this model of sociopathy that assumes that a sociopath is an incomplete person, that you can just cut out pieces and they will be gone. Which, frankly I find foolish. At most, I think, emotion might be inaccessible to a person’s consciousness (which means it’s still happening somewhere) or the person might fail to recognise them or fail to process them or fail to act on them.
The show so far has shown us Hannibal crying at the Opera (which - as a person who lot of time has problems with accessing their emotions - art is really good vehicle for releasing tension/catharsis that is safe and effective - just sayin’) and being lonely. His emotions? Pretty well established at this point.
Now the thing is, sociopaths have many times been described as resourceful, great actors, above-average in intelligence (man, this one especially deserves it’s own post) and capable of “perfect” rational decision making. Sort of ideal, by western standards. So, when the show tells us that Hannibal is a sociopath who doesn’t have the emotions part cut off, it sort of comes off as if he was an uber-mensch. Maybe he is justified in eating us (please discuss; also, Ryn I think this ties into the cannibalism-as-metaphor-for-captalism).
As for attitudes of characters on the show—
There is the (completely *fucking* hilarious) little conversation Freddie has with the Gang. They discuss what professions sociopaths prefer and then Freddie ends it with (paraphrasing here) - “Here we are, a group of sociopaths helping each other out”. The reading I have seen so far is, that it’s an acknowledgement of how broken they all are. That they are equal in that sense.
My reading is sort of the exact opposite.
I think Freddie is pretty much making fun of them. Sure she knows a lot of about sociopaths and can cite the stats. She is interested in the patterns that will allow her to make predictions, she is not invested in the concept. She sees no value in knowing who is a “true sociopath”. Because, in the end, only one dude eats people and he is her story. Not a bunch of criminal psychologists who sometimes feel bad about their jobs.
So it was interesting watching them being uncomfortable while Freddie pretty much didn’t give a fuck. (Let me love you Freddie!)
Meanwhile, our criminal psychologists are pretty much wondering if they are fucked-up, if their nature is fundamentally warped. Always looking for the monster within, it’s a psychologist hobby (especially for those into approaches that acknowledge and fear the Unconscious mind).
It’s also interesting that it’s Freddie who implicates Will might be having some problems. Now, Will is pretty much the opposite of a sociopath, when going by diagnostic criteria (which I’m sure Freddie knows). He is however wildly unstable, which is what matters here more, I think.
(This is a part of my ongoing musings on the topic who is a Person and who is Other on this show. For similar shit browse my Hannibal tag.)
this show is really obsessed with narratives on a metatextual level—well, on all levels, really, but that’s worth literally an entire book of discussion—and I think the urge to invoke the sociopath label, apart from just being such a psychologist thing to do, is a function of this narrative drive.
on one level, the show appears to be presenting a “we’re all fucked-up” narrative that highlights the viciousness and horror of a human life—this is the interpretation most of fandom focuses on, as you note, esp. as regards the “psychopaths helping each other out” line. Your interpretation is so intriguing, though! “…in the end, only one dude eats people, and he is her story.” Freddie Lounds may actually be the one character who functions on a narrative level so perpendicular to Hannibal’s that it pierces his human veil.
Which brings me to Hannibal as ubermensch. As articulated in this post, Hannibal—while being a classically unreliable narrator and a Class A abuser is presented as the most capable and together—the most solid— character on the show. Does this togetherness depend on his abuse, just as capitalism can only function through mass destruction and impoverishment?
Neuschwanstein castle in winter. Bavaria, Germany.
yeah so any painting by edward hopper makes my heart constrict. I can’t handle the loneliness his works evoke.
will graham has a nice day: the show
- will wakes up in the morning from a deep night’s sleep
- he drinks his favourite tea (NOT PEOPLE!!!!)
- he eats a healthy breakfast (still not people)
- he takes a walk with his doggies through the forest and finds a little stray kitten that loves him and licks all over his face
- he buys the kitten a treat and the doggies a treat (and those treats aren’t people!!!!)
- he turns on the news and anderson cooper reports that everyone in the world is having a nice day and there are no murders and to wear warm socks because it’s a little chilly outside
- he gets a card from a secret admirer that tells him he has nice hair and isn’t insane and should take care of himself more
- he watches a good movie and has a nice bath and drinks wine (not people!)
- he goes to bed just a little before normal but not before eating a good batch of ice cream in his favourite fuzzy t-shirt (both of those things are not people)